What is TRACE-COVID-19?
Assistant Professor Katie McLaughlin is a co-principal investigator with the TRACE-COVID-19 project. TRACE-COVID-19 is an OSU public health project designed to gather timely information about the presence of the novel coronavirus in communities and at Oregon State University. TRACE (Team-based Rapid Assessment of community-level Coronavirus Epidemics) uses a scientific gold standard — random sampling — to understand the prevalence of the virus in the population. TRACE is a large collaborative effort, with a team of OSU scientists from 5 colleges and one Center, plus Willamette Valley Toxicology, and includes local partners such as the Benton County Health Department. Professor McLaughlin’s involvement focuses on sampling design and prevalence estimation for both TRACE OSU and TRACE Community, and general statistical support for the team’s research. More information about TRACE senior personnel can be found here: https://trace.oregonstate.edu/about/our-team

TRACE has two main components: TRACE OSU and TRACE Community.

TRACE OSU (https://trace.oregonstate.edu/osu) serves students, faculty, and staff at the OSU Corvallis and Cascades campuses, as well as the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Any OSU student, faculty, or staff member can enroll for TRACE testing, and will then be eligible to be randomly sampled to participate in testing.

TRACE Community (https://trace.oregonstate.edu/community) serves residents of communities around Oregon. Since April 2020, TRACE teams have conducted community samples in Corvallis, Bend, Newport, Hermiston, and Eugene on a total of ten separate occasions. TRACE teams visit randomly selected households in a representative set of neighborhoods in each community. Participants receive a home test kit from TRACE field staff, use the kit inside their home and then return it to the TRACE staff.

The number of people infected is a key driver of an epidemic. Prevalence provides a leading indicator of the risk posed by the virus to the health of people in the whole population. Our goal is to inform public health policies and practices – in the community and within OSU – that slow the spread of the virus and minimize the impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.